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Slowik set on FIRA success in Poland

10 April 2014

  • Slowik determined to impress in Poland with England U18
  • Bristol youngster primed for Portugal clash
Lucas Slowik

Photo: Tania Richards

Eye operations, concussion and a frankly gruesome ankle injury are all obstacles that could easily derail the career of any sportsman. However, Lucas Slowik has already dealt with all three of these set-backs while still a teenager – without a modicum of protest.

The same steely determination means the England Under 18 centre is set on enhancing his burgeoning reputation at this week’s FIRA/AER European Championship in Poland.

Slowik was selected a year young by head coach John Fletcher for last season’s competition, but saw his contribution reduced to just 30 minutes after being knocked out in the opening stage of a 82-8 victory over Portugal.

Unable to play, he stayed on with the squad for the remainder of the tournament – which England won following further defeats of Scotland and France – and absorbed a great deal of knowledge. Now, Slowik is thrilled about the prospect of putting that into practice during another clash with Portugal on Friday.

England Under 18 celebrate 

Photo: RFU Archive

“It’ll be a great challenge. Last year gave me a taste of what Under 18 rugby is all about,” he explains. “Just being part of the camp helps you learn a lot – you feel the mood among the boys and really feel part of it.

“I met other players from all over the country and found out about their traits and how they play. You bond as a side and that makes you better on the pitch. Come the end of the tournament we’ll have built a great team spirit.

“Portugal are a keen bunch of players and they don’t have any respect for their opponents. We’ll look to play our game and hope that our skills, pace and power can kill them off. But we’ll need to take a few hits along the way.”

A strong, speedy runner, Slowik has impressed for Filton College in the AASE League this season despite mixed results for his side and earlier this month signed a first professional deal with Bristol Rugby.

That capped a season that has also seen him become the club’s youngest ever player in the professional era on making a try-scoring debut against Gala in the British and Irish Cup at 17 years and 268 days.

Progress has not always been smooth, though. In 2011, a 15 year-old Slowik suffered a double fracture and dislocation to his left ankle while playing for Corsham and required months of pain-staking rehabilitation. Prior to that, he endured stints in surgery to correct a lazy eye.

Born with just 10 per cent sight in his left eye as well, Slowik has met his fair share of trials. Even so, he is clearly not a fan of hard-luck stories.

Lucas Slowik

Photo: John White Media

“The lazy eye haunted me a bit in my school years,” he admits, before shunning sympathy very quickly. “I’ve learned to deal with it in rugby terms. It’s just a case of adapting on the pitch.”

Slowik’s forthright, honest attitude is perhaps a product of his tight-knit family life. Brother Auguy has broken into the first team with Bristol too, while his parents were extremely supportive over his formative years in rugby.

Indeed, there is a sense of self-discovery to this tour for Slowik. His father’s father was Polish, so the trip represents a chance to delve into his heritage as well as impress on the pitch.

“I’ve never been here but it’s great to visit another country and it should be a fantastic experience.  Dad will come out to the final game, so that will be special. My parents have helped me and my brother along the way without ever pushing us into rugby.

“Now that I’m going in twice a week at Bristol it’s a dream come true – pretty much what I’ve wanted since I was a kid starting out on Sunday mornings in the freezing cold. To make it a living from rugby would be very nice and signing a professional deal felt like a great achievement.

“I know it’s only the start, though. The hard work starts here.”